Skip to comments.With election in sight, governor will [now] tout frugality [WA state]
Posted on 12/26/2007 5:36:38 PM PST by sionnsar
OLYMPIA -- For Gov. Chris Gregoire, apparently less is more.
Heading into a bruising re-election battle with budget hawk Dino Rossi, the Democratic governor is adopting a high-profile penny-pinching role, saying that in these uncertain times, Olympia should sock away most of the state's $1.4 billion surplus.
Although Gregoire can't rival Rossi in the fiscal conservatism department -- and would alienate her liberal base if she tried -- she views the 2008 legislative session as a prime opportunity to show voters that she's frugal and can restrain spending by her fellow Democrats.
It's true that Gregoire is willing to leave $1.2 billion in savings and vows to fend off voracious appetites and spending pressures from some of the Democrats' leading campaign supporters and natural allies.
But it's also true that the horse is already out of the barn: Gregoire and the ruling Democrats have spent heavily in the past four years, and the governor's own budget office now projects a deficit of at least $620 million in the upcoming biennium -- after the 2008 election.
From 2004, when the last budget was written before Gregoire took office, through her 2008 proposed supplemented budget, spending will have risen 33.3 percent -- from $25.2 billion to $33.6 billion.
Olympia's spending policies -- and Gregoire's role -- clearly will be a pivotal campaign issue as Rossi seeks to avenge his 133-vote loss in 2004.
He will frame the election as a choice between a free-spending governor and a parsimonious former state sentator who wrote the 2003-05 budget, erasing an enormous deficit without new general taxes.
"She's blowing through the biggest surplus this state has ever known and turning it into a sizable deficit," Rossi said. "People have a real, tangible choice. You known darned well she's going to raise taxes" after the election.
The governor hasn't talked about taxes in '09, but the deficit and new spending pressures could put it on the table. Advocates for K-12, Puget Sound cleanup, paid family leave and expanded health coverage all are lining up for more revenue.
During the campaign, Gregoire will tout her administration as demonstrating wise fiscal leadership, investing in education, kids' health care, the environment and other voter priorities while creating a "rainy day" savings account and showing discipline, said her campaign manager, Kelly Evans.
"It's time to get off the roller-coaster and be frugal and be smart about investing and saving," the governor said.
Both Gregoire and Rossi make valid points -- and in the last analysis, the voters will have to decide whether to elect a smaller-government budget hawk dedicated to restraining taxes or a center-left government activist with a skinflint streak.
Rossi, who plans to run as center-right, said both candidates now have clear records that show their true instincts. When he was Senate budget chairman, he forged his reputation by triangulating with Democratic Gov. Gary Locke to write a no-new-taxes budget in the depth of the last recession.
In the past four years, with the economy booming once again, Gregoire and her Democratic brethren have followed a pattern of spending heavily, but also setting some money aside.
In 2005, they boosted taxes by more than $400 million, earmarking much of the new revenue for popular voter-approved mandates such as class-size reduction and teacher salaries. That year, they wrote a fat two-year budget that included salary increases and expanded K-12, higher education, environmental protection and health care.
Ammons can never quite hide his preference for the Left and big government. I hated seeing his columns in the now-defunct King County Journal.
a frugal democRat ?
this I gotta see..
Dead people are rolling over in their graves in Kings County, they are so eager to vote again for Gregoire.
Well we are having a hard time finding a frugal Republican anymore.
if she does not win....she will just steal the election like last time.....can’t get more frugal than that!!!
Gregorie frugal? Maybe with her own money.
I’m praying for you! Wisconsin is not far behind ya. We’re hanging on by a thread here.
She needs to spend some of that savings on the ferries.
There’s a response I could make — but won’t.
OTOH, like many Democrats it appears she’s been a bit “frugal” with regards to maintaining infrastructure...
Maybe she should run for mayor of San Fransicko.
Let's put a big red bow on her and send her on down.